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Book Review


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  The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns
by Ann Budd

If you read Interweave Knits, you may already be familiar with Ann Budd. The managing editor of the magazine, she's also responsible for the encyclopedic "Grand Plan" patterns.

Each pattern in the series contains instructions for knitting a simple garment type in nearly any size or gauge of yarn.

In this new book, Ann expands on the "Grand Pattern" concept to cover a total of eight types of garments: mittens, gloves, hats, scarves, tams, sweaters, vests, and socks. She puts more than 350 pattern combinations at your disposal.


Innovative Styling
First you'll notice the book's innovative design. It has a glossy hard cover, but the pages inside have been spiral-bound.

The inside of the back cover has an integrated pocket to hold skein labels, pictures, notes, or anything else you might want to leave in the book. And you can wrap an integrated elastic loop on the back cover around the entire book to keep its contents secure.

The overall effect is one of a functional notebook you'll want to use, rather than a coffee-table book to be handled carefully.


Under the Covers
You won't find tales here of color combinations reminiscent of Mediterranean tidal pools, nor will you hear how a trip to Paris inspired specific texture treatments. The straightforward patterns are presented in an almost scientific manner.

Each section begins with a brief "Basic Anatomy" section that explains the ultimate objectives for that garment. Then you're given your marching orders: Find a yarn you like, determine its gauge, and pick the garment size you need. That's it.


Following the Patterns
Once you've completed those steps, you're ready to start knitting. At each spot where specific shaping is necessary, you'll see a chart of numbers.

Find your gauge along the left column of the chart, then scan to the right along that row until you reach the column corresponding to your size. Bingo, there's the number you need.

Tip: I strongly recommend marking your specific pattern numbers before you even begin knitting. You can either mark up a copy of your pattern, or be bold and highlight your numbers directly in the book. After all, it was designed to be used.


Easier than it Looks
I found it extremely easy to navigate what initially looked like a mess of numbers. Interweave's design team did a remarkable job of translating lists of numbers into intuitive, visually compelling instructions. They even added beautiful full-color images showing several examples of each garment type.

The numerically challenged will appreciate the fact that Ann did all the calculations for us. All we need to do is navigate the numbers.


Worth the Investment?
I have every issue of Interweave Knits since editor Melanie Falick transformed it, which means I already have a few of the patterns in this book. Chances are many of you do too, in which case you may be wondering why you should spend money to buy them all over again.

For me, the answer is twofold. First, the design layouts are much easier to follow than they are in the magazine.

And second, I love the prospect of having all of these patterns -- essentially everything I could ever need -- in one spot. It's the difference between clipping recipes from a magazine and owning the cookbook.


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